One of my writing friends, Kris Nitz, taught me to read my work aloud. She explained to me that she does this even when she is writing a novel. That seemed like a lot of effort but then I gave it a try. I quickly came to see things her way. Why? Because reading my work aloud helps in these three areas.
When I read my work aloud, I catch mistakes that I missed both on screen and in print. It might be a typo (chose vs choose). Or it might be repetition. This doesn’t mean that I’ve typed the same word word twice in a row. It might simply mean that I’ve used it too often in a single paragraph or I’ve repeated certain facts or transitions on the same page. Why are these things more obvious out loud? I have no idea. I’m just glad that they are.
The Beauty of Language
Something can be technically correct and still be clunky or awkward, much like the word awkward. I catch these things hwen I hear my work. I’m also more aware of the beauty of language and turns of phrase when I hear things read aloud. At first, I thought that was just my imagination but it is something my critique group has confirmed. They’ve noted my tendency to play with sound even in tween nonfiction.
Voice is all about sounding like yourself. When I write about certain things, I need to be careful. Archaeology and history sometimes send me back to academia. Soon, I fall prey to what my husband lovingly calls aca-da-babble or academic babbling. It is convoluted and wordy and uses ten thousand dollar words when much simply text would do. But when I read my work aloud? I sound like me!
So if you are having troubles developing your voice, read your work aloud. It can also help you catch mistakes or simply create text that flows. Try it.